Sunday, July 29, 2007

Systematics for Everyone

A wonderful resource for all. Robert Culver is 91 and going strong! He is a scholar-farmer, living on a small, working farm in Houston, MN. This systematic differs from others in that Dr. Culver has the pastor and interested lay person in mind as he puts on paper his years of study, teaching and preaching.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Diocese of Alaska Bishop Timeline

The Search Timeline for the 8th Bishop of Alaska


July-September Focus Groups of the Search Committee address questions, working toward the Profile

October 3-8 Clergy Retreat and Diocesan Convention – Bishop Search Committee gathers information for Profile

December Profile due to Standing Committee by the 1st. for their meeting on December 8.


January – Profile and Nomination Form disbursed

February 1 to April 30 – Nominations for the 8th Bishop of Alaska are open

May 1- August 31 – Screen candidates

September – Onsite visits (outside)

October – Background checks of Nominees

November – Announce Nominees

December – Petition process, first two weeks

December - January – Background checks for Petitioners


January (early) – Walkabouts (Nominees visit Alaska)

January (mid) – Electing Convention (date and place TBA)

March – Transition

April (toward end) – The installation of the 8th Bishop of Alaska

Ascol on Exposition

Reformed Southern Baptist leader, and contributor to the Founders Journal has written on Biblical Exposition. Dr. Ascol will visit Anchorage in August of 2008.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

David Wells on Preaching the Cross in 2007

David Wells is a theologian who teaches at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has written a number of excellent books critiquing contemporary culture and Christianity. Wells says that one evidence of the breakdown of our society can be seen in the shift away from virtues to values.

Virtues are the aspects of the good which are enduringly right in all places and at all times. These things are enduringly right because they reflect the unchanging and perfect character of God.

Whereas virtues are enduring and unchanging, values may mean nothing more than a preference, belief, feeling, habit, or convention, or ‘whatever any individual, group or society happens to value, at any time for any reason.’ (Wells in Losing our Virtue, p 16)

Good character, Wells says, results from ‘internalizing the virtues so that they become somewhat habitual.’ He continues, ‘In the 19th century, when people wrote a job reference, they were mostly character references…Today, in our competitive, globalized, bottom-line driven world, it is competence that matters much more than character.

Character is nice, but it doesn’t make much money. Besides, who is to say what is right and what is wrong? When we talk about virtues, there is agreement; when we talk about values, there is no agreement.

The result of this shift in thinking, along with others Wells mentions is the increasing trend toward individualism and relativism which makes the need of the death of Christ on the cross incomprehensible to the postmoderns.

The New Testament states the facts of Christ’s death and its meaning (1 Cor. 15.1-3). He died for sin, to spare us from God’s wrath, to deliver us from sin. But we are trying to tell people who have no category for sin that Christ died for them because they are sinners and subject to God’s wrath.

Wells concludes: “Our task today is to tell people who no longer understand what sin is, no longer have the categories for understanding it, who no longer think they are sinful, who no longer in their heads inhabit a moral universe is to tell them that Jesus Christ Christ died for something they believe they are not guilty of.”

Since this is so, we need to patiently talk with those who fall into the above category. We need to ask them what part of the Christian message they cannot accept, and why do they think of themselves and others as free from sin. We need, Wells concludes, to show the same patience with others as God has shown to us. “Between Genesis 1 and John 3, there is the long, patient work of God in preparation so that when Christ comes in the fullness of time, people can understand this magnificent work of God.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kim Riddlebarger's Criteria for Voting

I found this very helpful.

From Kim Riddlebarger…

Here, then, are a few of my personal criteria:

I. Moral issues:

1. Is the candidate “pro-abortion” (i.e., supports partial birth abortion and federal funding for all abortions)? I will not vote for such a candidate.

2. Is the candidate “pro-choice” (i.e., personally opposed to abortion, but defends a woman’s privacy over against state intrusion)? Under very limited circumstances I would vote for such a person (that is, if the person is an otherwise sound candidate, does not advocate federal funding and if they are running against a pro-abortion candidate).

3. Is the candidate politically pro-life (i.e., a generic conservative)? Perhaps.

4. Is the candidate consistently pro-life (i.e, in tax policy, supreme court appointments, etc). Likely.

5. Does the candidate favor homosexual marriage? I will not vote for such a candidate.

6. Does the candidate favor civil unions? Under very limited circumstances I would vote for such a person (i.e, only if they were an otherwise sound candidate, and only if they are running against a gay-marriage advocacy candidate).

7. Does the candidate support the traditional definition of marriage? Likely.

8. Does the candidate express their concern about the poor and suffering through the advocacy of increased federal spending and centralized government programs? Unlikely.

9. Does the candidate express their concerns about the poor and suffering through the advocacy of federal/state/community programs involving job training, welfare reform, etc. Perhaps.

II. Constitutional Issues

1. Does the candidate favor limited representative government? Likely. This is my primary voting criterion.

2. Does the candidate defend second amendment rights? Likely.

3. Does the candidate understand that the establishment clause of the first amendment does not trump the free exercise clause? Likely.

4. Does the candidate defend the principle of avoiding all foreign entanglements (i.e., nation building), but nevertheless is willing to defend America’s citizens and vital interests when necessary? Likely.

5. Does the candidate defend private property rights? Likely.

III. Disqualifications–Personal Reasons Why I Will Not Vote for a Particular Candidate:

1. Does the candidate engage in rhetorical class warfare–“two Americas,” “tax the wealthiest Americans” etc?

2. Does the candidate play the race card? (This is different than addressing racial issues--something which is vital)

3. Does the candidate have a thin resume for office? Executive office holders (i.e. governors) are generally better suited for high office than is a legislator (i.e. senators).

4. Does the candidate make unsubstantiated concerns (i.e. global warming) important themes of their campaign?

5. Does the candidate invoke "Christian America" themes?

6. Does the candidate see the judiciary as a means of enacting public policy?

IV. Qualifications–Personal Reasons Why I Will Vote for a Candidate

1. Is the candidate well-qualified for the position?

2. Does the candidate understand the vocation of “public service”?

3. Does the candidate possess strong leadership skills?

4. Does the candidate possess good communication skills?

5. Does the candidate manifest personal integrity?

6. Does the candidate understand the great threat posed by militant Islam?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Might Renew my Subscription to CT

CT - has a rather good essay on the importance of Justification. Of course, it avoids some of the controversial aspects of this doctrine, but what it says is good with the promise of a good article by Simon Gathercole next month.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Reformed Theology in a Nutshell

When God saves, he saves.
What God says, (the Bible) is true
All our life is Christian life
God rules non-Christians too
God speaks when the Bible is preached

That People May Know...

1 Kings 18:37 (ESV)
37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back."

What's happened to evangelism in the Episcopal Church. Michael Green who know TEC very well has this to say..."The church is moving in the direction of an undifferentiated Deism. Belief in the deity of Jesus, an objective atonement and the reality of the resurrection are constantly discounted among influential Episcopalians, while the people in the pew prefer not to enquire too closely. And the PB herself has made it plain that all religions lead to God. No wonder the church leaks!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Clarity from Rome

From Rome:

From the Vatican statement:

  • “Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
  • Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.”

Council refers to Vatican II.

A response from the Church Society, an English evangelical ministry:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once known as the inquisition) has issued a statement clarifying Roman Catholic understanding of themselves and other churches. Nothing new is said, but it does clarify the way in which the Vatican has torn apart Christianity because of its lust for power.

They remind us that in their view that to be a true church one has to accept the ludicrous idea that the Pope is in some special way the successor of the Apostle Peter and the supreme earthly leader of the Church. These claims cannot be justified, biblically, or historically, yet they have been used not only to divide Christians but to persecute them and put them to death.

The desire for papal power, all too evident in history, continues to rear its head today. Sadly, too many political leaders seek to court that power and encourage it. In the past the English, in common with other nations, struggled against corrupt papal power for centuries. We thank God that at the Reformation, England, and the Church of England, were set free from that power.

We are grateful that the Vatican has once again been honest in declaring their view that the Church of England is not a proper Church. Too much dialogue proceeds without such honesty. Therefore, we would wish to be equally open; unity will only be possible when the papacy renounces its errors and pretensions.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Witherington on Baptism

Here is a very helpful article on baptism by Ben Witherington. It is precis of his book.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Remember the Alamo

I'm visiting brother John in SA. It was a little rainy, but not enough from keeping us downtown San Antone!